Deputy PM Meridor cancels London visit following lawsuit threat 1Nov10 November 2, 2010
by Barak RavidÂ -Â Haaretz -Â 1 November 2010
Intelligence and Atomic Energy Minister Dan Meridor cancelled on Monday a planned visit to London, England, after receiving information that he might be facing a lawsuit or an arrest warrant upon arrival.
The Foreign Ministry and the Justice Ministry notified Meridor that he may face charges connected to his alleged role in the IDF raid on the Gaza-bound ship Mavi Marmara on May 31, 2010. The Israeli raid resulted in the deaths of 9 Turkish activists. Meridor refused to comment on the cancellation.
Meridor is member of a forum of seven ministers that advises Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The forum discussed the arrival of the Gaza-bound flotilla in a meeting that took place on May 26, according to Netanyahu’s testimony before a committee investigating the raid.
However, Netanyahu denied in his testimony that the forum had discussed the details of the military operation.
This is not the first case of Israeli politicians facing legal charges in Britain. In 2009, a British court issued an arrest warrant for Livni over war crimes allegedly committed in Gaza while she served as foreign minister. Livni canceled her trip to London as a result of information of the warrant issued against her.
Livni served as foreign minister alongside Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Defense Minister Ehud Barak during the Israel Defense Forces offensive in Gaza. The three figures comprised the “troika” of top decision-makers who charted the course of the war.
In 2005, a retired Israeli general, Doron Almog, returned to Israel immediately after landing in London because he was tipped off that British police planned to arrest him. The warrant against Almog – who oversaw the bombing of a Gaza home in which 14 people were killed – was later canceled.
Other Israeli leaders, including former military chief Moshe Ya’alon and ex-internal security chief Avi Dichter, have also canceled trips to Britain in recent years for the same reason